February 19, 2011

thug life: seventeenth century style

Attention bad boy street artist types: check out how an original art-gangster was keeping it real back at the turn of the seventeenth century:

  • 4 May 1598: Arrested at 2- 3am near Piazza Navona, for carrying a sword without a permit
  • 19 November 1600: Sued for beating a man with a stick and tearing his cape with a sword at 3am on Via della Scrofa
  • 2 October 1601: A man accuses Caravaggio and friends of insulting him and attacking him with a sword near the Piazza Campo Marzio
  • 24 April 1604: Waiter complains of assault after serving artichokes at an inn on the Via Maddalena
  • 19 October 1604: Arrested for throwing stones at policemen near Via dei Greci and Via del Babuino
  • 28 May 1605: Arrested for carrying a sword and dagger without a permit on Via del Corso
  • 29 July 1605: Vatican notary accuses Caravaggio of striking him from behind with a weapon
  • 28 May 1606: Caravaggio kills a man during a pitched battle in the Campo Marzio area

The thug in question was Caravaggio, the Italian old master responsible for some of the most beautifully  creepy religious paintings of all time.  His epic use of chiaroscuro transformed mundane moments of macabre violence into sublimely lit tableaux, plus he was a total badass and evidently a douchebag as well.

The records that document this incredible spree of mayhem are currently on display at the Archivio di Stato di Roma.  If you can't go view the documents in person, you can still read all the details about Caravaggio's life of crime as reported by the BBC.

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